In “Fire did not spark human colonisation of cold Europe”, we learn that one particular treasured Darwin myth – humans accidentally discovered fire, and then everything happens – might not be so.
“The European evidence strongly suggests that the habitual and controlled use of fire was a late phenomenon,” Villa and Roebroeks conclude.
The findings controversially suggest that people migrated from Africa to the below-freezing winter temperatures of Europe without fire. These early hominins might have combined a high-protein diet with a highly active lifestyle to survive, the researchers speculate.
The conclusion also questions Wrangham’s hypothesis that an increase in human brain size was tied to the invention of cooking.
Wrangham remains to be convinced. He points out that whenever cooking did arise, it would have led to profound biological effects on the humans alive at the time. There’s no evidence for those effects in 400,000-year-old hominin fossils, he says.
Hey, have fun. This kitchen war is free.